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Curie eligible for state basketball playoffs

Curie's Cliff Alexander dunks 2nd half. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Time Media

Curie's Cliff Alexander dunks in the 2nd half. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Time Media

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Updated: March 3, 2014 5:23PM

Illinois High School Association Executive Director Marty Hickman confirmed Monday afternoon that Curie will be allowed to play in the state tournament.

“We have received a letter from Chicago Public Schools indicating that they have nine players that are eligible and meet our previous semester rule,” said Hickman. Cliff Alexander is expected to be one of the eligible players, according to a source.

The Condors will face the winner of the Argo-DuSable game Tuesday at 6 p.m. at King. According to a statement released by the IHSA, the IHSA asked CPS Administration to verify each player’s adherence to the IHSA Academic Eligibility By-laws prior to the team being allowed to participate. Nine players complied with the by-law and are eligible to play.

Curie’s roster lists 12 players, which leaves three ineligible players. Curie was stripped of its 24 victories and the city championship by Chicago Public Schools on Friday. A CPS investigation revealed that seven basketball players were ineligible since the beginning of the season. CPS said that the players would have been eligible if the proper forms were filed with the CPS office.

Curie coach Mike Oliver has been suspended for an amount of time to be determined by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. An anonymous phone call to CPS triggered the investigation just hours before Curie was scheduled to play Young for the city title Feb. 21 in a game broadcast live on CPS officials’ initial probe uncovered enough eligibility issues to delay Curie’s arrival at Chicago State, site of the title game.

The team bus left Curie several hours behind schedule and the game began 30 minutes late. The decision to let Curie play was a practical one — the arena was full and a live broadcast crew was waiting. The four-overtime game was an all-time classic featuring Chicago’s best big men in a generation, Young’s Jahlil Okafor and Curie’s Cliff Alexander. The highlights led the late edition of SportsCenter.

On Sunday evening, CPS confirmed to the Sun-Times that an investigation was under way. The inquiry dragged on all week. For three days, CPS representatives claimed the investigation was drawing to a close, but there was no announcement until Friday evening.

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